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Latin Grammys 2019: Juanes Presented ‘Person of the Year’ Award by Lars Ulrich

Alessia Cara, Sebastián Yatra co-star in Colombian icon’s career-spanning medley — plus surprise guest, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich

Alessia Cara, Sebastián Yatra co-star in Juanes' career-spanning medley; Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich also makes a surprise appearance. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

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Colombian rock-pop superstar Juanes performed several of his greatest hits at the Latin Grammys on Thursday. A longtime Latin Grammy darling, he was also honored as the Person of the Year at the ceremony.

Juanes kicked off his chapter of the show with the song that started it all: 2000’s “Fíjate Bien.” He then followed with his international 2002 breakthrough, “A Díos Le Pido,” followed by his 2005 cumbia-rock superhit, “La Camisa Negra.”

He also peppered in two of his latest hits from this year: Canadian by birth and Italian by heritage, R&B singer Alessia Cara joined Juanes onstage to perform their stunning cross-cultural collaboration, “Querer Mejor.” The Colombian pop prince Sebastián Yatra then slinked into the foreground to perform their joint pop-reggaeton number, “Bonita.”

This year’s Person of the Year segment was, however, far from business as usual. After closing out his procession of hits, he was surprised by a longtime hero from the anglophone world: Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.

“[I met] Juanes years ago, after performing in Mexico,” Ulrich said in English. “And I have keenly watched his music, his creativity and his radiant humanity soar across this beautiful planet. Then I learned he was a Metallica fan… Now tonight, we come full circle. I proclaim myself a Juanes fan! Mi amigo, mi parcero, I’m proud to recognize you as Person of the Year from the Latin Recording Academy!”

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“I’m making music because of you guys!” exclaimed a wonderstruck Juanes to Ulrich.

“I thought it was a ghost at first,” Juanes later said in the press room. “I remember sitting in my house 30 years ago in Medellín, being 15, being angry, and listening to Metallica all the time. I was obsessed!”

Juanes’ performance capped a busy week for the Colombian veteran. On Wednesday, the Latin Recording Academy named him Person of the Year, celebrating his “creative artistry, unprecedented humanitarian efforts, support for rising artists, and philanthropic contributions to the world.” After a star-studded series of tributes — including performances by Rosalía, Juan Luis Guerra and Ozuna — Juanes capped off the gala by performing his favorite Metallica song, the 1983 Kill ‘Em All cut, “Seek and Destroy.”

The Academy first issued this award in 2000. Over the years, it has been given to legendary figures like Vicente Fernández, Juan Gabriel and Caetano Veloso. The most recent recipients are the wildly successful Mexican rock band Maná and the salsa star Marc Anthony.

It was almost inevitable that Juanes would receive this award, since he has a long history of winning big at the Latin Grammys — he has already taken home 20 awards. During a stunning show of dominance in 2003, 2005, and 2008, Juanes swept every category he was nominated in, taking home Album, Song and Record of the Year twice apiece during that period. In September, the star was nominated twice more for Record of the Year and once for Song of the Year.

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Juanes will continue to build on the momentum of his latest Grammys appearance later this month. “Bonita,” a recent single with Sebastián Yatra, jumped to Number Three on Mediabase’s latest Latin radio chart, reaching an audience of more than nine million listeners last week. Juanes will release a new album, Más Futuro Que Pasado, on November 22nd.

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